Les jardins de Venise et des villas de la Vénétie by Margherita AZZI-VISENTINI – Château de Bénouville

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Les jardins de Venise et des villas de la Vénétie by Margherita AZZI-VISENTINI – Château de Bénouville

Venice’s gardens and the villas of Venetia

The villas of Venetia are a unique phenomenon in the history of western civilisation thanks to their quantity, quality and durability. Around 4,000 villas have been listed to date. Most were built from the mid 15th to the late 18th century and, some, even later. The period’s most renowned architects, painters, sculptors and craftsmen, who had also worked on city residences for the same patrons, participated in the construction of these villas (from Sansovino to Palladio, Scamozzi and Longhena, from Paolo Veronese to Giambattista Tiepolo, etc…) which can be admired all around up to the foothills of the Alps. A vast area was used to house a farming business whilst the Sunday residence, with courtyard and garden, was surprisingly close to functional buildings. The same hydraulic engineers who had worked on the 1556 global urban plan of Venice adapted conquered territories as from 1404 to house these villas, creating a unique cultural landscape. The architecture of the proprietor’s house and its garden is closely associated with the surrounding landscapes, and the great variety of situations has given way to a vast array of formal solutions. House and garden share the same iconographical programme, expressed indoors via frescoes and, outdoors, via statues.

Margherita Azzi-Visentini


Margherita Azzi-Visentini, a literature graduate and doctor in history of art, teaches history of architecture, gardens and landscapes at the Politecnico di Milano (Polytechnic University of Milan). She has written over 250 publications. She has focused, in particular, on Palladio and on his influence in the Anglo-Saxon world, on the architecture of Venetian villas and gardens from the early modern period, on the British colonies in America and on the Borromean Islands, on the sources used for Italian garden study and on travel across the Alps. She has worked in partnership with CISA, Vicence ; Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche, Trévise; the Rome Study Centre on Culture and Image; Archivio del Moderno, Mendrisio (Switzerland) and other institutions. She was President of the Jury for a dissertation on gardens “Verbania Editoria & Giardini”, member of the jury for “Il Parco più Bello”, member of the AIAPP, of Ateneo Veneto, of the Istituto Veneto di SS.LL.AA, of the ICOMOS International Council on Monuments and Sites and senior member of the SAH, Chicago. She has acted as invited professor at Dumbarton Oaks and at the CASVA in Washington and the Yale Centre for British Art in New Haven. A monograph on the relationship between the villas of Venetia and landscape (in collaboration with M. Cunico and G. Rallo), and another on the Borromean Islands, are currently pending publication.